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Moving Overseas with Children
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Moving Overseas with Children

Before you Move

It is important to talk to your child as soon as you can about the move. If it is possible, it would be best to take your child with you on a pre-move trip to the new country. Show them the new neighborhood and the school they will be attending. If that is not an option, take pictures or a video for them to get acclimated to their new surroundings and it won't feel as such an "unknown". If you are not relocating to a country that uses the same language, enroll your child in a few introductory language lessons. The more you can do to help your child feel comfortable, obviously, the easier the transition is going to be.

Give your children a chance to express their feelings, and try to be honest about your own feelings. Keep a positive and optimistic outlook on the move, but don't be afraid to talk to them about any uncertainties you have. Involve your children as much as possible in the move. If they're old enough, let them pack up their rooms or toys.

Especially for older children, it's important for them to stay in touch with fiends, relatives, and other special people in their lives. Have a going away party and have all their friends sign a scrapbook with their addresses. Knowing they can stay in touch is an important part of a successful move. Plus, it will be a wonderful memory for those first few days in a new environment.

International Education

International moves require careful examination of academic programs. You need to understand the school's requirements and academic programs of study and how your children will fit into this school. Ask if the school has your children's favorite subjects, such as art or music instruction, or country's language is taught; if the program is not acceptable, you will have to make other arrangements for your children to learn the language. If you have children in high school looking toward college in America, planning ahead is all the more crucial. Inquire about the way the school does routine testing and the procedures for applying to colleges. Comprehensive information about most colleges is now available on the Internet, which is a tremendous help to expatriates. But you must still plan to submit college applications far in advance of students attending school in America.

Many countries have what are commonly called American or international schools. Check to see if one exists in your area because the staff is very familiar with transient students. In addition, the faculty is knowledgeable about the issues and challenges these students experience, such as the application procedure for United States colleges.

A letter from students' former teachers outlining their current programs may be helpful to the administration at the new school. Be sure you know the records that are required other than school records, such as up-to-date immunization files.

Most of all, visit the facilities yourselves and speak to the staff. You can inquire about the country's regulations and how the school meets them. Ask for references from parents, and follow up by calling several to learn their views firsthand.

After the Move

Don't spend too much time unpacking - at least not right away! The essentials are important to unload, just to feel settled. But wait on the less important stuff. Take time to enjoy your new home with your family. Take walks and check out the local restaurants and neighborhood hangouts or parks. Be on the lookout for neighborhood kids, and help introduce your children to them. If it's comfortable, invite some of the neighborhood kids over for pizza and a video. Try to line up some activities in which your child can participate after the move: a sports team, music lessons, art classes, a scouting troop. Not only will activities like these keep your children involved; they'll also help them to feel like part of a group - an important aspect of settling in.

Let your children have some input in planning the new house, especially in choosing things for their rooms. Be tactful if you choose another option, and let some decisions be entirely up to them, for example, the placement of their bed or the color of the paint in their room.

Above all, make sure your child knows you're there to listen to their concerns and fears. Don't leave them in the dark, and keep in mind that they will react to a situation the same way that you react. So relax! And remember, a hug and a smile can go a long way in making you both feel better!

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